Freedom in the 50 States

I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m already sick of news about North Korea.  They definitely rank in Calamity’s Top 3 Most Depressing Countries.  It was a nice balance to comb through the 2011 release of the Freedom Index.  The PDF of the general conclusions is well worth a read, all 84 pages of it.


 This study comprehensively ranks the American states on their public policies that affect individual freedoms in the economic, social, and personal spheres. It updates, expands, and improves upon our inaugural 2009 Freedom in the 50 States study. For this new edition, we have added more policy variables (such as bans on trans fats and the audio recording of police, Massachusetts’s individual health-insurance mandate, and mandated family leave), improved existing measures (such as those for fiscal policies, workers’  compensation regulations, and asset-forfeiture rules), and developed specific policy prescriptions for each of the 50 states based on our data and a survey of state policy experts.

Our approach to measuring freedom in the states is unique in three respects: (1) it includes measures of social and personal freedoms such as peaceable citizens’ rights to educate their own children, to own and carry firearms, and to be free from unreasonable search and seizure; (2) it incorporates more than 150 distinct public  policies; and (3) it is particularly careful to measure fiscal policies in a way that reflects the true cost of government to the citizen.
We find that the overall freest states in the country are New  Hampshire and South Dakota, which together achieve a virtual tie for first place, while New York is the least free by a considerable margin. On personal freedom alone, Oregon now comes first, with Vermont and Nevada not too far behind, and Maryland brings up the rear. On economic freedom alone, South Dakota easily takes first, and New York is a distant last. The most improved states since the last edition of our study are Oregon, Nevada, Maine, and Washington, while Wyoming, California, Arizona, and  Massachusetts have fallen the furthest.

So, they focus on individual rights, and as individuals you can use this information to vote with your feet, whether it’s for job relocation, retirement or a SHTF bunker.  I’ll do a little bit of break down of some of the key points I took away, but my views on personal freedom might not match with your views, so I highly encourage you to read the pdf, and then if you want personalized weightings, go into the data and weight the freedoms that are most important to you, to see how that changes the ratings. You can do that from this site.

I’m pretty happy with the rankings of my current home-state, Iowa.  The Fiscal Policy table only has us rated at 17th, but for Regulatory Policy, we’re 2nd.   Maine is ranked 39th and 36th for those two, respectively.   South Dakota ranks high on the Economic Freedom, they don’t have individual income tax. But, they are down at 36 for Personal Freedom, which matches some of my own conclusions (my company was looking to have engineers relocate to Sioux Falls.)   In the end, for me, the economic benefits didn’t outweigh the personal freedoms I would have to give up.  Hubby and I did like Missouri, and are thinking about that state for our next relocation. Mostly to be closer to friends and aging family, there’s nothing wrong with Iowa.  There are other states closer, but Missouri out-ranks them for Personal and Economic Freedoms.

You Mainers rank at a decent 7 for Personal Freedoms, but get dragged down by a 39 ranking in Economic Freedoms. Iowa has the reverse problem, a high Economic Freedom, and low Personal Freedoms ranking.  Likely due to the smoking ban, raw milk ban, firework ban and aggressive policing of the drug war.  I thought the same sex marriage and homeschooling support would make up for those a little more than they appeared to. It turns out, the decision on marriage came right after the data was collected for this ranking.  I did like the author’s aside about that one.

(One could argue that states should get the government out of marriage licensing  altogether and offer streamlined “life-partnership contracts” to all sorts of families and households, not just heterosexual and homosexual two-partner relationships.)

I totally flashed to a couple of the “marriages” that Heinlein liked to write about. lol Very Libertarian, but, I digress.

I noticed that the 4 states that top my list of Places Calamity Won’t Live are at the bottom of the rankings, Hawaii, California, New Jersey, New York getting 47, 48, 49 and 50.  Yup, you couldn’t pay me enough to move to any of those states.  I didn’t need a ranking to tell me that, but it never hurts to have a stance reenforced.

What do y’all think? Do you check out rankings like these when you’re thinking about relocating or setting up a Bug Out Retreat?

– Calamity Jane